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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  February 23, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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largest cases of water contamination on a marine corps base where he worked and lived. semper fi, 10:00 p.m. tomorrow night right here on msnbc. the last hoorumph. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, team of grouches. was there anything that happened in last night's debate that could make republicans happy? did one candidate emerge as a likable leader? did any look like a hero? did they together build their case against president obama? no. and with each passing day and every passing sinking poll number, republicans are wondering, is this the team we want on the field?
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the serial stumbling and the gop is turning the whispers into cries. is this as good as it gets? could a third party candidate emerge? what would that do to the race? plus, reversal fortune. now that bob mcdonnell has backed down but only partially on the ultrasound bill, who is happy? not republicans who accuse him of backing down and certainly not democrats who say he didn't go far enough in backing down. but democrats are taking the issue as a way to deepen the gop's already serious problem with women voters. and president obama singing the blues this week reminding us he's not the first commander in chief to ham it up. ♪ was that good or what? that was bill clinton on arsenio. richard nixon hit the piano. and american presidents who are also, well, besides commander in chief, they also are "american
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idol" wannabes. finally, let me finish with rick santorum's strange notions about phony theology. we begin with last night's debate. howard fineman is director for "the huffington post." and susan page is a bureau chief for "usa today." when one of the many frictions last night between rick santorum and mitt romney in the two-hour debate -- was it only two hours? romney figured out a way to blame santorum for president obama's health care plan which was a model on romney's own plan in massachusetts. he turned the tables by setting santorum's support. who would have thought arlen spector would ever be mentioned again? let's watch. >> a study came out two weeks ago that listed 15 ways in which romney care was the model for obama care. the real fundamental issue here is government coercion.
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>> the reason we have obama care, the reason we have obama care is because the senator you supported over pat toomey in pennsylvania, arlen specter, the pro-choice senator of pennsylvania that you supported and endorsed in a race over pat toomey, he voted for obama care. if you had not supported him and we had said no to arlen specter, we would not have obama care, so don't look at me. take a look in the mirror. >> you know, romney had his amen chorus there last night. watch a little square shoulder. a little perfection. you can imagine them in the audience all doing what they were told to do. goody two-shoes applauding on command. are we allowed to say the word piss ant on television? this debate was small. a debate about who is going to command us in the world. we're fighting the chinese. we have terrorism still out there. we have to deal with iran. and they are sitting there talking about, well, you know, all those years ago, you backed arlen specter. give me a break. mickey mouse club.
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am i wrong? help me here, susan. objective reporter. objectively, wasn't it really petty last night? >> you know, it was not one of those -- we've had some good debates. >> yes. >> i mean, we've had 20 debates. you would hope some of them would be good. last night was a debate of candidates who know they may not have much time left on stage. after next tuesday's primary where romney could be in real trouble if he loses michigan. fr surging. so you really find them trying to pick things to differentiate themselves from the other guy. and push it home. it was a debate that left president obama all pretty scot-free until the very end talking about foreign policy. >> if anybody only had one day to live, would they live it last night? was that anybody's idea of life on this planet? it was so -- i love politics. i love it so much, but what were they talking about? >> first of all, to say it was about republican intramurals was to overstate what it was.
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they were getting deep into the history of legislation and legislative maneuvering and trading folks in the senate. >> whose earmark with the bridge to nowhere and the olympics? i'd like to never hear about those again. >> our friend simon said rick santorum sounded like he studied at the bob dole school of debating. >> here he is. santorum trying to defend his record as a former washington senator -- not the baseball team -- who championed earmarks by claiming romney took earmarks for the olympics. here it comes. be ready for the excitement. >> unfortunately, attacking me for saying i'm this great earmarker when he not only asked for earmarks for the salt lake olympics in tens of millions of dollars, sought those earmarks, and used them. and he did as the governor of massachusetts, $300 million. $400 million. what happened, there was abuse. when abuse happened, i said we should stop the earmarking process. but i did say there were good earmarks and bad earmarks.
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>> i would put a ban on earmarks. i think it opens the door excessive spending. spending on projects that don't need to be done. there are a lot of projects that have been voted for. you voted for the bridge to nowhere. while i was fighting to save the olympics, you were fighting to save the bridge to nowhere. >> they are trying to get the job that teddy roosevelt once had. and teddy kennedy and ronald reagan. and they are looking like they are trying to be gerry ford. >> well, that's a good point. romney clearly wanted to get under santorum's skin. santorum was in a position all night where he was getting engaged in discussions about how the earmark process works. you know you've gone too far into the weeds when in fact, at one point, romney had a pretty good line. i don't know what you're talking about, but let me make this point i want to make. for romney who wants to portray santorum as a washington insider, santorum did the business for him last night by trying to explain washington processes that a lot of americans think don't make any sense.
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>> susan and howard, we know the problems facing this country. the reason people watch programs like this is they are real. we have an unemployment situation which is endemic, it's chronic. we're never getting back to 4%. let's talk about that. let's talk about the fact we have real competitors in the world now like chin and south america. we have terrorists out there who get up every morning thinking how to kill us. and these guys are talking about earmarks. >> this is a case of tactics overwhelming any larger vision. it had been several weeks since the last debate. it gave the tacticians inside of each campaign way too much time to think of tiny little maneuvers. >> i know. >> rick santorum played right into it as susan said. this was a huge missed opportunity for santorum. >> yes. >> what he needed to do was say, forget about all that legislative baloney. here's my vision. if he had gone to the top of the polls, he needed to enlarge --
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>> so well said. inside, he bored into the past and this legislative maneuvering. it was a terrible mistake. >> susan, we know he has a message. he wants to build a republican party and a presidency that's looking out not just for the rich, but for the sons of italian immigrants, people living in parts of the country that have been left behind economically. the older people in pennsylvania who he said don't have the money to go to arizona and florida. they are stuck living on pension checks and social security. if they are lucky to have pension checks. this is a real important challenge out there for people living on this planet. it often seemed that ron paul was on team romney. i want to talk about some of the double-teaming. talk about double-teaming in basketball. he, too, went after rick santorum like he's working for romney. what does he want to be? head of the post office? what job are they going to give him? calling santorum a fake. right on the air. let's watch the exchange. >> congressman paul, you have questioned the fiscal conservative credentials of all of these gentlemen, but
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particularly this week, santorum. you have a new tv ad that labels him a fake. why? >> i'm real. i'm real. >> congratulations. >> i'm real. >> i find it fascinating when people are running for office, they are fiscally conservative. when they are in office, they do something different. >> howard, why are we watching ron paul? he's never going to be president of the united states. ever, ever, ever, ever, ever. he's not actually running for president. what was he doing last night? >> i think he's calculating and expecting that in the end, mitt romney, somehow or another, is going to struggle his way to the nomination. therefore, mitt romney will control the convention. although barely. and ron paul wants air time and attention and a platform at the convention. and i think would like, somehow,
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to perhaps, have some kind of role in economic -- i know it sounds crazy. >> the networks aren't going to give him time. the broadcast networks aren't going to let ron paul give a big primetime speech so romney can't really deliver, can he? >> if that's what's required for peace and to keep ron paul from walking out of the convention, that's what he'll do. >> do you have any theories about what the game is here? what is exactly ron paul seeking from the good will of romney? >> you know, i think ron paul is someone who, unlike a lot of politicians, believes what he says. he's been saying the same thing -- >> why is he spending all this time on santorum? >> for whatever reason, he and romney seem to have a friendship that's been useful for romney to have somebody else on stage that's willing to hit at the anti-romney person of the night seems to be. he did the same thing on gingrich. >> are they pinned for this semester? what do you mean they like each other? >> there's another theory here. >> susan, you don't think it's
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about affection do you? >> i think ron paul is motivated by his ideas. he wants to effect policy. you have seen the republican party on big issues move in his direction. i agree he's not likely to get the nomination, but that doesn't mean he won't have an effect on where the republican party stands. >> let's go to your newspaper. i walked past the stand this morning and you had an amazing headline there which squares with my psychology right now. you have some new numbers in the "usa today"/gallup poll. they are bleak for both the president and the republican field. 50% of registered voters judge president obama's presidency as a failure. 44% think it's a success. that's a tough assessment. 44 positive, 50 negative. and republicans did not seem thrilled with their field of candidates either. 55% wish someone else was in the race. only 44% are pleased. what an opportunity this seems to create, at least here in late february, for some third option. >> absolutely.
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now, who would it be? i don't know. how would they get funded? i don't know that either. but it's not only the dissatisfaction with both president obama and republican rivals, it's this general sense the country has gotten off track. what really struck us is this is a time when americans are feeling better about the economy. there's more optimism. the economy is growing now. six out of ten think it will be growing in a year. yet that hasn't lifted the views of any of the political leaders. >> it's so interesting. they don't really like the leadership of the country. >> the approval rating of congress is about 12%. looking at the number of people in the republican party who want another candidate even at this late -- >> so the president's 44 is pretty good? >> that 55% of republicans saying give us another candidate here, that's the highest percentage ever. >> it's appropriate. >> that captures the general mood. >> last night was a reasonable explanation. i don't see how they got a good number. i don't think that turned on the
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audience. anyway, thank you. howard fineman, thank you, buddy. thank you, susan. coming up, fears are rising on the right that the republicans are kicking this election away. they had a great chance. the people aren't there. the candidates aren't looking presidential. now a new worry. could a third party come along to the right of the winner of the republican nomination that could take away their votes and get the president re-elected? cent ury glob nomad ♪ ♪ home was an airport lounge and an ipad ♪ ♪ made sure his credit score did not go bad ♪ ♪ with a free-credit-score-dot-com ♪ ♪ app that he had ♪ downloaded it in the himalayas ♪ ♪ while meditating like a true playa ♪ ♪ now when he's surfing down in chile'a ♪ ♪ he can see when his score is in danger ♪ ♪ if you're a mobile type on the go ♪ ♪ i suggest you take a tip from my bro ♪ ♪ and download the app that lets you know ♪ ♪ at free-credit-score-dot-com now let's go. ♪
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vo: offer applies with enrollment in freecreditscore.com™. new poll numbers from my home state of pennsylvania. let's go to the "hardball" scoreboard. according to a new poll, rick santorum has a huge lead over mitt romney in april's republican primary. santorum at 45%. romney just 16%. a 29-point spread. look at how santorum and romney match up against president obama in the general. the santorum advantage is gone. the former pennsylvania senator
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trails obama by 8 in his home state, 45% to 37%. same spread for mitt romney, eight points. obama is up over romney. 41/33. we'll be right back. are the rea. nature valley trail mix bars are made with real ingredients you can see. like whole roasted nuts, chewy granola, and real fruit. nature valley trail mix bars. 100% natural. 100% delicious.
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welcome back to "hardball." with voter unhappiness with the republican field and judging president obama's presidency a failure, our "hardball" strategists are here to discuss that fact. first, if americans don't like what they are seeing for 2012, could this year really bring a third-party candidate to the presidential race who matters? and two, all this talk of contraception, religion, gay marriage, even satan, which party has the edge when it comes to the culture wars? here are the strategists. democratic steve mcmahon and todd harris. steve, i think when you look at these numbers, and i have been very cautious about the delight about the president's people that are all popping balloons
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out in chicago way too early. the economy hasn't got into that lift yet you need for a real recovery. and republicans certainly are blowing it as much as they can. but i don't think this president has been re-elected yet. do you agree with that first of all? >> yes. >> okay. the republicans have not shown any greatness yet? >> not yet. >> so there's an opening for a third party. if it's romney, if he pulls it out, suppose it happens, is there a bigger opportunity for a third-party candidate to emerge down the middle, somebody out of new york? somebody backed by this elite group? a bloomberg-type, pro-choice, somebody fiscally conservative, somebody wall street really respects. or a great opportunity for some guy far out like ross perot, somebody who is sort of a cowboy, libertarian, but somebody way out there? >> i think there's a better chance of getting votes if it were somebody like bloomberg or
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donald trump with some credibility, not donald trump, who could actually run against the system and the politicians that have been controlling things for so long. >> you mean go around the republican. >> it's like for a ross perot. a modern day ross perot. >> let me ask you about that. do you buy the fact they can't go to the right or left of romney, they have to go around him. they have to grab pieces from around the territories, not just one chunk. >> if it were to happen, which it's going to the going to happen, the way you would win is not through -- >> this is a lot like '92. isn't it? >> it's not the ideology you would win because you have the character attributes the other two guys are missing. the history of third-party movements have been personality driven. they have never been environmentally driven. you have to have the person. >> before you have the profile, you have to have the person. let's take a look. former presidential candidate and current romney supporter jon huntsman called the republican party broken.
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he weighed in on that third party question. question. >> i think we're going to have problems politically until we get a third-party movement or an alternative voice to put forward new ideas. that ain't going to be me, by the way. i know the next question. i'm not interested in that. >> he's not exactly pushing romney's. he says we need a third party. are you sure he isn't sporting for the job? i think huntsman makes the most sense of a guy to scatter his support, some liberals even like him. can he scatter enough to get 20% and make a showing? >> no. i don't think he can. he would have been the strongest republican nominee, but he couldn't get nominated. >> why not a third-party candidate? >> there's not enough vote left. the most interesting person is buddy roemer. he used to be a democrat. now is a republican. rails against big money in politics and against the system as it were.
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the president with the move into the super pacs is making that case a little easier for someone like that. he did it for good reason. he had to do it because the republicans have raised so much, but it does create an environment -- >> let's look at the situation. if you're counting strategies, the swing states that mattered the most, voters see the gop nomination battle as weakening the republican nominee so far. that's 53% of those people in the swing states say this whole primary season has hurt. only 21% say it strengthened the eventual winner. >> i think it's awfully hard when you're right in the middle of the battle to see this is something that could strengthen the nominee. but four years ago in the middle of the clinton/obama fight, i don't think many people were looking beyond the here and now, the immediacy and thinking eventually this is really going to help us. but obviously -- there are still schisms -- >> i think it was a strong
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contest of two strong candidates. i never got the feeling they were killing each other in the general. >> that's exactly the point. >> i don't agree with that at all. >> "the washington post" did a study and found 6% of the ads four years ago were negative. over 50% of the ads so far that have been run so far are negative. in the same poll, mitt romney's favorable/unfavorable ratio is 27/57 in those states. it's a net negative 30. those are places he hasn't campaigned. they are just reading and seeing and learning about him. >> let's talk about women. three guys here. let's try this. it's dangerous territory. i think we can punch this out, though. all this talk about contraception, abortion rights. all this talk about theocracy from santorum, this stuff from the women i work with is a major turnoff. they say why are you getting into the bedroom again? why are you telling us what we can't do in our society when it's always been seen as a personal thing, contraception. >> this is my view.
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let's put the specifics aside. some people have strong feelings on both sides about this. but the fact is that when you look at poll after poll after poll, what is this election about? it's about jobs and the economy. i was just -- i got out of the field in a battleground state. >> why is everybody talking about contraception? your whole party on capitol hill. they want to pass a bill up there to overrule the president on giving women free contraception so we'll have less abortions, i would argue from my point of view. that's the good part of it. >> i think most republicans would argue that the specific bill on capitol hill that that's about religious freedom. in the case of santorum, you cut the guy some slack in that he's typically answering the questions that the media are asking him. if the media -- >> he said he was going to make contraception an issue in this campaign. >> i'm not saying he hasn't brought it up, but he gets asked about it again and again. we ought to be talking about jobs and the economy.
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>> todd is right. >> let me get this straight. romney isn't going to answer our questions. and we aren't supposed to ask them about what they are talking about. >> you can ask them whatever you want. you can't blame them then. >> we're going to do this in the sideshow. romney never answers the question but now you're saying, don't pay attention to what they are talking about. >> romney established that as a rule. you get to ask whatever question you want. i can give whatever answer. >> answer the question that they should have asked you. >> todd makes a good point. the issue that will decide this election or the set of issues revolve around the economy. the president and the president's team are out there talking about it. the republicans are talking about contraception and gay marriage and cultural issues, which could hurt them. >> rubio, people change religions. especially kids. it's interesting. but let's talk about this. does the nominee, if it's romney, have to run a cultural conservative? he's still seen as somewhat
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secular. >> i don't think he needs to run cultural conservative. i think he probably at the end of this fight is going to want someone who will energize the conservative base. it doesn't mean they have to be. when marco was elected in 2010, our campaign was entirely about changing the direction of the country and creating jobs. it was all about the economy. >> what bones are you going to throw ron paul after last night's flackery on his behalf? that was sad. i never disliked him, but he was a flak for romney. it was pathetic. >> it was like ron kirk. >> he was like a little guy in the movies where he runs alongside in the side car. thank you, steve mcmahon and todd harris. up next, what if mitt romney answered all the questions like the one he answered last night, not really answering them. stick around for the sideshow.
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back to "hardball." now for the promised sideshow. first up, question and answer. that's how it usually goes when the candidates hit the stage for a debate. right? let's fast forward to the final question in last night's presidential debate. when the four contenders were asked to name the biggest misconception that voters have about them. let's join romney's response already in progress. >> we're going to have to create more jobs, have less debt, and shrink the size of government. i'm the only person -- >> those are misconceptions about you? >> you get to ask the questions you want and i get to give the answers i want. >> romney's amen course may have liked that answer, but if that's how he thinks it's done, imagine his first press conference. as president of the united states. let's give it a whirl.
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mr. president, when are we going to see the unemployment number begin to drop dramatically as you promised on the campaign trail? >> we have restore america's promise in this country. where people know with hard work and education, they are going to be secure and prosperous and their kids will have a brighter future than they had. >> can you give us a rough date when the jobless numbers start to come down? >> you get to ask the questions you want. i get to give the answers i want. >> that's how it will be. when i saw that exchange last night, by the way, something in my memory said i have seen this before. we went do his 1994 debate with senator ted kennedy and dug this up. nbc asked romney to name his biggest personal failing. here's romney's, again, nonanswer. >> i spent hours and hours, hundreds of hours in hospitals across this state from worcester to boston, working with sick people, talking with them, consoling them --
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>> can i interrupt you. this was about your greatest personal failing. >> good for him. he always thought he can show up at a debate, this is romney, and not answer any of the questions. after all, he can always fire the moderator. and romney started the night with an interesting note. as something of an ice breaker, each candidate got to give a statement. what was romney's tip off that it was time to wrap up? let's watch. >> i want to restore america's promise and i'm going to do that. as george costanza would say, when they're applauding, stop. >> a little bit of a nod to "seinfeld." it's the episode where jerry teaches george to end every conversation on a high note. watch and remember. >> showmanship, george. when you hit the high note, you say good night and walk off. >> all right.
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that's it for me. good night, everybody. >> what was that? >> showmanship. george is trying to get out on a high note. >> it's really jerry's line. that aside, actor jason alexander, the real guy and the face of george costanza on "sinefeld" took to twitter last night with his reaction to romney's line. "thrilled governor romney enjoys my old character. i enjoyed the character he used to be too. if he'd embrace that again, he'd be a great candidate. in other words, going back to being the great governor of massachusetts. you spent all these years denying you are. bob mcdonnell, backs down on that controversial bill requiring women seeking abortions to get an ultrasound. to for democrats, it's still a chance to exploit the problems republicans have with independent women voters. that's ahead. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc.
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welcome back to "hardball." today, again, the politics of
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contraception and women's medical care are out front and center. earlier today, democrats on capitol hill held a hearing of sorts to allow testimony from that single witness. she was the woman democrats wanted included in last week's initially all-male panel discussing contraceptive coverage in the obama health bill. although it was not technically an official hearing today it allowed democrats to make clear again they will not back down on contraceptive coverage. and over across the potomac in virginia, there's polarizing reaction to governor bob mcdonnell and his decision ultrasounds before abortions. he says he objects to requiring internal ultrasound, but he supports an external one. this small move gets the governor out of his glaring national spotlight or not. perhaps more significantly, will it keep him in the race for vice president.
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elijah cummings is a maryland democrat who attended today's hearing. and virginia state senator barbara favola opposes that mandatory ultrasound bill. it's great to have you both on. you're both very much a part of this story. here's part of the governor's statement explaining his shift somewhat mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. no person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state without their consent as a precondition to another medical procedure. but that did not satisfy democratic lawmakers in virginia. let's listen. >> it's just still a mandate. and that's the problem. actually, mandating an unnecessary procedure -- that's the problem. until the governor is imposing a mandate and walking into doctor offices and telling a doctor what procedure he should do, it's an improper role of government. >> just to get it squared away. senator, thanks for joining us from richmond.
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what do you make of the fact that the governor, the republican governor of your state who may be on the ticket nationally this year, saying you don't have to get this very invasive procedure, but you have to have the standard one that women have, often our kids have had when my wife has had, in having a baby. why did the mandate survive even in this form with the external sonogram requirement? >> well, the mandate is really a ridiculous approach. i think governor mcdonnell showed his true colors. the general assembly spent lots of time on this transvaginal issue that was part of the first bill which governor mcdonnell clearly wanted. he proposed and had his allies advocate for it in the general assembly. it wasn't until hundreds and thousands of women pushed back and demonstrated on the state capitol and we heard from the american medical association and a number of other interest groups where the governor decided to amend the bill and
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actually just require these external sonograms. but let's be clear. there is no need to require anything. if in fact a woman medically needs this procedure, doctors will perform them. so there is no room for the state government in these decisions. no room at all. it's just totally inappropriate. >> do you think there's any evidence, not that you have to give their argument, but do they have any evidence to suggest that if women are forced under law, threat of law and sanction, to have these sonograms before an abortion, is there any evidence they choose in any number not to have an abortion, which you would think would be their argument? is that their argument that that will discourage women who go in for an abortion, will they decide not to based on that information? or is it just to torture people? >> that clearly -- i mean, their intent is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional
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rights in accessing an abortion. i think they are -- >> what do you mean prevent them? you mean discourage them. not prevent them. discourage them. >> i would say prevent. i mean these are pretty egregious bills, chris. >> how do they prevent? >> well, nobody can even point to an example in virginia history where we have actually gotten involved in the practice of medicine and dictated to doctors how they should practice medicine. so, you know, let me just go on. when you mandate anything, and it's not medically necessary, it's really -- insurance companies don't have to cover it. >> i get your point. >> poor women would be referred to clinics where there are long lines. and in virginia, they are called pregnancy crisis centers. they are really abortion prevention clinics.
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so, you know, this has lots of ramifications. and you and i and a lot of everybody will be paying through higher insurance premiums. >> let me bring in congressman cummings. you were very effective last week in lambasting the majority in your house, the republicans running that place if the way they put together an all-male panel. what did you get done today? >> we did very well. we had miss fluke, the young lady we wanted to testify last week to come in and provide testimony as to why it's so important that women have access to contraception. she made a clear case that there's an effort throughout the federal and state governments to cut back or to push back and actually prevent women from getting contraceptives. and she also talked about the difficulties that students at georgetown university go
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through. normally, they would have to spend some $3,000 over say a course of a three-year stay at law school. and the fact is the way things are now, the way they are going, there's an effort to stop them from being able to get contraceptives through their insurance. but we're seeing this all over, chris. the republicans seem to be bent on making sure that women don't have access to contraceptives. i'm talking about the pill. iuds. it's ridiculous. women are rising up. >> we're out of time. do you think the republicans will keep up the fight and bring the bill to the president's desk? do you think they'll really try to force this? >> right now, i got to tell you, i think so. they have 209 signatures, chris, on this bill. and that bill is a horrible bill, which basically says if an employer, whether it's a religious institution or not,
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has any, quote, moral convictions against contraception, they don't have to include it in an insurance policy. and women are feeling this out and saying, wait a minute. the republicans are going far too far. we already gotten over 300,000 women signing on saying they object to all of this. >> you're on the winning side of this one, congressman and so are you, state senator. thank you so much for coming on the show tonight on "hardball." up next, president obama sang the blues this week, but he's hardly the first president to show off his musical side. but he has one. clinton, nixon, truman they all did it. we're going to talk about what it does politically when they get up on the stage. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ female announcer ] with swiffer dusters, a great clean doesn't have to take longer. i'm done.
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nate silver, "the new york times" 538 blog has updated his projections for the primary contests. let's go to the "hardball" scoreboard. in arizona he gives romney an 89% chance of victory next week. but look at michigan, much closer. santorum's the favorite with only a 52% chance. that's a toss-up. fast forward to super tuesday. newt gingrich looks competitive in his home state of georgia. it's a three-way race among newt, mitt, and rick.
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and finally in ohio, santorum has a 91% chance of winning. that's an important state. what a race. it looks like a three-way split that day on super tuesday. we'll be right back.
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♪ i'm so in love with you we're back. that was president obama bringing down the house obviously singing al green's "let's stay together" back last month. the president picked up the mike again at a blues event at the
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white house on tuesday. let's watch the new act. ♪ come on ♪ baby don't you want to go ♪ same old place ♪ sweet home chicago >> president obama joins a long list of performing presidents if you will. i'm joined by jill zuckman. what's the positive of a president whether harry truman or mr. bill clinton or who they get out and show interest on being on stage as entertainers. >> first of all, president obama rocked it when he was crooning those lyrics. it warmed him up. everybody complains, how often have you complained, chris, that he's the lecturer in chief. he's detached. suddenly -- >> he does listen to me. >> he's listening to you. he looks happy.
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warms him up. he looks like he's enjoying himself. and people can relate. now, don't get me wrong, if the president sang one note off key, we would be excoriating him. >> here's bill clinton showing what you're talking about. a memorable appearance back in '92. ♪ >> you know what? he's had credibility problems over the years on different issues as we know. brilliant guy. one thing i trust him on absolutely completely. music. >> absolutely. >> he's good at it. he's talented. when he talks about it like when he talks about the old long playing records, we're the same age, totally authentic. >> he got a huge reaction when he made that appearance and was playing.
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people really connected. there's something also about politicians. they come across as a little bit one dimensional. now we know that president obama really likes music. cares about music. showed off his chops on the old friday night show back in '63. after he lost not just to kennedy in the presidential election but lost to pat brown in that governor's election in california. here he is with a piece he composed himself. ♪
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>> fascinating. fascinating. i have never seen that before. i had no idea he played the piano. maybe that's my failing as a student of history. bottom line for all this stuff is if you're going to put yourself out there, you better do it well. if you don't, everyone is going to be watching. >> danger point. is it a danger for this president -- republicans are running an ad that will show tomorrow night razzing him on this saying he's acting like he's celebrating and there's nothing to celebrate yet. here's the attack ad. ♪ come on, baby don't you want to go ♪ >> the republican national committee is responsible for the content of this advertising. >> they have similar celebrating rising gas prices. it works. >> it's a clever ad. hats off to the rnc. they made a clever ad. >> he still did the right thing? >> absolutely. >> when we return, let me finish
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with a word about rick santorum's charge that president obama -- this was a nasty charge -- subscribes to a phony theology. rick, you're in trouble if you're watching. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. one chance to hunt down the right insurance at the right price. the "name your price" tool, only from progressive. ready, aim, save! grrr! ooh, i forgot my phone! the "name your price" tool. now available on your phone. get a free quote today.
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let me finish tonight with this. rick santorum attacked president obama for having a phony theology. an apparent reference to the president's belief he should do
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anything he can to protect this earth. the earth that is. the only place we, our children, their children and forever into the future have to live. santorum called this concern for a healthy planet a religion that puts the earth above man. i suppose he's talking about the concern that scientists and most thinking people have with climate change. what we're doing to effect it. any way, it's all phony, he says, this serious concern about what we're doing to the earth. all this part of a phony theology. well, i wonder who else believes in this so-called theology. here's someone else that believes in it addressing diplomats from around the world just last month. environmental protection and connection between fighting poverty and fighting climate change are important areas for the promotion of human development.essi of
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the conference of stes parties to u.n. convention on climate change recently concluded in durban, the international community will prepare for the u.n. conference on sustainable development as an auntentic family and thus with great sense of solidarity and toward present and future generations. what is this phony theology? well, rick, it's pope benedict xvi. leader of the roman catholic church. your church. where does santorum get his theology on climate change? where does he get language of christians have dominion over the earth.

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